U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Uncompahgre National Forest


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Forest Information

The Uncompahgre National Forest is comprised of 944,922 acres and is located in western Colorado. There are fourteen developed campgrounds of which seven met the selection criteria.

The Uncompahgre National Forest is a little forest with a lot of diversity. From the Upper Sonoran eco-environment found in the canyons along the Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway (State Highways 141 and 145) to the alpine environment of Lizard Head and Mount Sneffels Wildernesses, the variation in topography and vegetation provide for a wide variety of recreation opportunities and numerous camping locations.

The areas around Telluride and Ouray, Colorado are sometimes called America's Little Switzerland, with good reason. With clusters of mountains rising well above 12,000 feet and several peaks above 14,000 feet, the rugged beauty of the area is memorable. This area is considered by some to be "Jeepers" heaven. The network of challenging four wheel-drive trails, such as Ophir Pass and Forty-one Trail, Uncompahgre National Forest deserves this designation. But you don't need a four wheel-drive vehicle to enjoy the scenery.

For those who would prefer to explore the Uncompahgre in a more pedestrian method, there are close to 200 miles of foot, horse and mountain bike trails across the little Forest. The more strenuous trails are found in one of the three Wilderness areas located within the Forest's boundaries and permit only foot and horse traffic. For more information about these trails and camping locations, contact the Uncompahgre National Forest. With no developed campgrounds in these Wildernesses, camping is classified as "disperse" and does not qualify for review in this campground directory.

Matterhorn campground, near Telluride, and Amphitheater campground, literally above Ouray, are surrounded by mountains that provide a breathtaking backdrop to the campsites. Plus, both campgrounds are close enough to town for a leisurely walk through the shops or a pleasant meal out. While Amphitheater is designed for car and tent camping, the Matterhorn campground can accommodate recreational vehicles (RV) and motorhomes camping enthusiasts. In addition, the Matterhorn campground may have the most scenic walk-in tent camping site in the Uncompahgre National Forest.

Some of the most outstanding hiking in the Uncompahgre National Forest. Hikes to waterfalls, vistas, and up to timberline are possible from the town of Telluride, a glamorous Colorado ski resort. Be aware: most of the Uncompahgre's hiking trails are "lung-busters" for the inexperienced and unprepared. Altitude sickness is a common ailment for people visiting the Forest from lower elevations. Shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, or headaches are all symptoms of altitude sickness. Drink plenty of water, take it easy and give your body a chance to become accustomed to the increased elevation.

Near the eastern side of the Uncompahgre National Forest is a relatively undiscovered wonder of the National Park System - The Black Canyon of the Gunnison River. A full-day trip from the Forest's campgrounds along Big Cimarron River (namely Big Cimarron, Beaver Lake and Silver Jack campgrounds), the Black Canyon is well worth the trip. Of course, it might be difficult to leave the tranquility of Silver Jack Reservoir, or the excellent fishing found in Beaver Lake and in the Big Cimarron River but the view from the Black Canyon's Visitors Center is almost as good.

The Uncompahgre National Forest may seem small but it is a Forest with a great deal to offer its visitors: hours of quiet fly fishing on a crystal clear creek.; evenings of campfires among mature spruce trees under a black velvet night sky; and miles of trails that challenge both the physical and mental endurance. One breath-taking sight after another to explore and so much more. For a "little" forest, visitors soon realize the Uncompahgre National Forest always has something more to offer.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 2250 US Highway 50 Delta, Colorado 81416 970-874-6600 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Norwood P.O.B. 388 1760 Grand Ave. Norwood, Colorado 81423 970-327-4261 Ouray 2505 S. Townsend Montrose, Colorado 81401 970-240-5300

Fred and Suzi Dow